Muslim-Christian Romance Prompts Violent Protest in Egypt
Rock-throwing, tear gas, the works
An alleged romance between an Egyptian Muslim college student and a Coptic Christian man heightened sectarian tension on Friday in a small rural Egyptian town where police fired tear gas to disperse stone-throwing Muslims who surrounded a Coptic church in anger over the inter-faith relationship, a security official and priest said.
The Muslim protesters accuse Saint Girgis Church of helping 21-year-old Rana el-Shazli, who is believed to have converted to Christianity, flee to Turkey with a Coptic Christian man.
Stories of conversions to Christianity or Islam, inter-faith romances and the illegal building and expanding of churches have caused a series of deadly sectarian incidents in recent years. Since Islamists rose to power after Egypt's 2011 uprising that forced out longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Christians have grown more fearful of intimidation and violence from fellow Egyptians, especially ultraconservative Salafis.